Traditional Anglo-Papist

17 March 2006

Liturgical Development?

E.L. Mascall (1905-1993), in Whatever happened to the Human Mind?, outlines his theological approach as follows:
a recovery among Anglicans of Christian theology in the strict and classical sense of ‘the Science of God’, as a living and growing intellectual activity organically rooted in the Christian tradition and consciously operating within the worshipping and redemptive community which is the Body of Christ

Mascall, a Thomist scholar of note, outlines an approach which I think can easy be adapted to the topic of liturgy. Over the last couple of days I have had discussions with various people about the use of the 1962 Missale Romanum within Anglicanism, the Norvus Ordo as the normative rite of the Western Latin Church and the implied claims of invalidly from people who do not use it (even with indult), and the Traditional Anglican Communion as it moves forward to full communion with the Holy See.

Before making any further comments I would like to remind you that this blog is called Traditional Anglo-Papist. The adjective, Traditional, can be understood in two ways: as an oxymoron (a contradiction in terms) or as a tautology (a repetition of terms). Those who advocate the use of the Norvus Ordo would see the term as a contradiction: one cannot be traditional and Anglo-Papist. Those who advocate the continued use of the traditional Missals within Anglicanism see the term as an unnecessary repetition: if one is Anglo-Papist, one is traditional. I have no desire to enter into the argument further here.

However there is a deeper idea behind those who hold the ‘Missal Position’: liturgy is grown not made. The problem with any liturgy which has elements from various rites, or created by a committee (even Papal committee), is that it is a 'manufactured' rite not organically grow within a community of faith. As the quote from Mascall indicates, all intellectual and liturgical activity of the Church needs to be consciously operating within the worshipping and redemptive community which is the Body of Christ.

What is (and what is not) proper liturgical development? That is the fundamental question. Is the Normative Rite of the Western Latin Church (of course, valid) a proper liturgical development of the previous liturgical tradition of the Western Church? Much has been written on that very issue (see espeically, Reform of the Reform?. I will ‘insert’ one more reason, from the sphere of Mathematics, why the answer is ‘No’.

The Incompleteness Theorem of Kurt Gödel states that any system of numbers is incomplete within itself to prove all its assumption. So a system needs to expand to incorporate other systems which come with their own assumption. The basic idea is that any system of thought moves from the simple to the complex, never the other way. I am no mathematician like my wife but any attitude or philosophy which sees a return to the simple as desirable and achievable is fundamentally flawed. The liturgy cannot return to the ‘glory days’ of the Early Church since this would negate the response of the faithful in the ‘in between time’. Further, this would deny the context of the liturgy. Reform which does not recognise the existence of the liturgy within the context of the worshipping and redemptive community which is the Body of Christ is fundamentally flawed.

Nothing like something from 'left field'.


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